How to Paint a Wooden Gate?

Painting or repainting a wooden gate is one of the best ways to spruce up your home’s exterior and enhance its curb appeal. A good paint job will also protect your wooden gate from moisture damage and rot – greatly extending its lifespan and functionality.

Painting outdoor wooden gates is a fairly straightforward job, so even if you’re not that experienced with DIYing, you’ll still be able to finish the job without too much effort. Once you’re done, you’ll be left with an eye-catching wood gate that really ‘pops’ and might even make the neighbors jealous.

Outdoor wood gates tend to get worn down and weathered, especially ones in high-traffic areas. I’ll break down how to paint a wooden gate in detail, including the tools and materials needed, as well as tips for achieving a professional-looking finish.

Tools & Materials

Painting Outdoor Wooden Gates – Guide

Step 1: Prepare the Gate

Generally speaking, old wood gates and fences in need of a paint job will already have peeling and cracking paint. The first thing you’ll need to do is remove as much of this old paint as possible by scraping it off with a putty knife or paint scraper. Lay down a dropcloth below the gate to catch any paint chips coming off the gate.

You don’t want to leave any loose bits, as these will cause cracking and peeling further down the line. At the same time, remember you only need to remove cracking and peeling paint. Paint that’s stuck on doesn’t need to be removed – and scrapping it off is a waste of time and effort.

Now’s a good time to take a closer look at the gate and check for any rotten or damaged areas. Small damaged areas can be repaired with a little exterior wood putty, but if the damage is extensive, you’ll need to replace the damaged wood with new wood slats. If you happen to have some Bondo body filler lying around, you can also use this to patch up rotted wood

Step 2:  Clean and Sand the Surface

Next, you’ll want to sand down the entire gate surface with some rough to medium grit sandpaper. This will ensure your paint and primer adheres to the gate effectively. Start with rough 60-grit sandpaper, and then work your way up to about 100-grit for a smooth finish. A powered orbital sander can be helpful for this task.

sanding wooden gate
Sanding the gate after scraping.

Next up, you’ll want to clean the surface thoroughly to remove any dust and debris. You can do this with any old paintbrush, or if the surface is particularly dirty, you can wash it clean with a garden hose.

After the surface is dry and free of dirt and grime, it’s time to start painting!

Step 3: Apply Primer

Applying primer isn’t necessary if your gate’s existing coat of paint is in relatively good condition. However, if it’s peeling and cracking down to the bare wood, then applying primer will help your paint adhere better. Primer works sort of like glue – it helps the paint adhere to both the bare wood and any remaining old paint.

applying primer to wood gate

Apply primer to any areas of bare wood with a paintbrush, or if your gate is mostly bare wood – like mine was – then simply apply your primer over the entire surface.

After you’ve applied your primer, let it dry for an hour or two before moving on to the next step.

Step 4: Apply Paint

When your primer has dried, it’s time to do what you came for – paint your wooden gate

If you’re only painting a single wood gate, then you can get the job done with a brush. On the other hand, if your painting multiple gates, or painting your wood fence at the same time, then a small paint roller will make the job easier.

wooden gate after painting
Gate after painting.

You’ll want to go with an exterior grade acrylic or oil paint with both UV resistance and mildewcide.

Working from the top down, apply your paint with either the roller or paintbrush. Keep an eye open for excess paint that begins to ‘run’ or drip down. If you’ve got metal hardware or gate hinges that you don’t want to get covered in paint, you can cover them up with some painter’s tape.

Wait for the first coat to dry completely, and then apply a second coat if necessary.

Now you’ve got yourself a sharp-looking coat of paint – which will keep your gate clean and protected for years to come! 

If you want to enhance your freshly painted gate’s functionality, check out my post on how to install a gate latch cable.

Denis Gardner

I've loved tinkering and fixing things for as long as I can remember. So, naturally, I gravitated towards DIY and home improvement when I bought my first home. Nowadays you can find me writing about my passions or messing around with my newest tool!

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